Ken Follett's new book: a return to Kingsbridge

As publication day approaches, here are all your questions answered about Ken Follett's newest novel, The Armour of Light

Ken Follett’s new novel, The Armour of Light, will be published on 26 September. This absorbing, immaculately researched book returns to Kingsbridge, the village first introduced to readers in Follett's bestselling masterpiece The Pillars of the Earth. Set during the Industrial Revolution, this fifth Kingsbridge novel is part of the wider eight-volume cycle that masterfully chronicles the last thousand years of Western civilization. The novels already published have so far sold a total of 76 million copies.

What is the latest Ken Follett novel called?

The book is called the Armour of Light. It is the fifth book in the Kingsbridge series

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Discover the other Kingsbridge books in order

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When will the next Ken Follett book be released?

The Armour of Light will be published on 26 September 2023 in hardback, ebook and audio formats. The book is available for pre-order now. 

When is The Armour of Light set?

The Armour of Light begins in the fictional town of Kingsbridge at the end of the eighteenth century. It tells of a group of linked families whose lives are turned upside-down by the new age of machinery. Follett’s characters are involved in bread riots, strikes, and resistance to forced recruitment to the military. The British parliament meets this with repressive new laws that make it a crime to criticize the government.

The strife and brutality of the Industrial Revolution is intensified by a twenty-three-year war between Britain and France — a war that reaches its climax at the battle of Waterloo. As always, Follett highlights the roles played by women in both peace and war. 

I didn’t plan it this way, I just scoured the past for exciting stories that showed ordinary people coping with the changing tides of history. And then I began to see that the novels stand together as a body of work. I’m fascinated by how people have struggled for freedom – and won. Most of my stories are about just that. The issue underlying The Armour of Light is freedom of speech.
Ken Follett

Who are the main characters?

Sal Clitheroe and her son Kit live under the repressive regime of a Squire and find themselves fleeing after Sal's husband is involved in a terrible accident. Over the events that unfold, their futures are both bound up in the machine age that the Industrial Revolution brings to England during this time. Amos is another main character: a sincere but naive young man who inherits a cloth business at a young age, and also has to face the challenges that this age brings.

What can Kingsbridge series fans expect from the latest Kingsbridge novel?

Many of the elements fans love about the other Kingsbridge will also feature in The Armour of Light. In particular:

  • The book follows ordinary working people who stumble into and are forever changed by historical crises.
  • We meet innovators who shape history.
  • At the heart of the story is a battle for freedom of ordinary people fighting for a life free from oppression.
  • It features strong female characters, including Sal. 

What order should I read the Kingsbridge series in?

All of the books do work as standalone novels. If you would like to read them in order, as some books are prequels, they can be enjoyed both chronologically, or by publishing date. If you're in any doubt, our guide to the series in order can answer any questions.

The Armour of Light

by Ken Follett

Book cover for The Armour of Light

1792. A tyrannical government is determined to make England a mighty commercial empire, while in France, Napoleon Bonaparte begins his rise to power. As unprecedented industrial change sweeps the land, ordinary people are losing their jobs and families are torn apart by war and rough justice. As tension builds, a story of a small group of Kingsbridge people – including spinner Sal Clitheroe, weaver David Shoveller and Kit, Sal’s inventive and intelligent son – will come to define the struggle of a generation as they seek enlightenment and fight for a future free from oppression.